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Character and Characterisation

The central character of the story as well as its narrator, Amir has a privileged
upbringing. His father, Baba, is rich by Afghan standards, and as a result, Amir
grows up accustomed to having what he wants. The only thing he feels deprived
of is a deep emotional connection with Baba, which he blames on himself. He
thinks Baba wishes Amir were more like him, and that Baba holds him
responsible for killing his mother, who died during his birth. Amir, consequently,
behaves jealously toward anyone receiving Babas affection. Though Hassan is
Amirs best friend, Amir feels that Hassan, a Hazara servant, is beneath him.
When Hassan receives Babas attention, Amir tries to assert himself by passiveaggressively attacking Hassan. He mocks Hassans ignorance, for instance, or
plays tricks on him. At the same time, Amir never learns to assert himself against
anyone else because Hassan always defends him. All of these factors play into
his cowardice in sacrificing Hassan, his only competition for Babas love, in order
to get the blue kite, which he thinks will bring him Babas approval.
The change in Amirs character we see in the novel centres on his growth from a
selfish child to a selfless adult. After allowing Hassan to be raped, Amir is not any
happier. On the contrary, his guilt is relentless, and he recognizes his selfishness
cost him his happiness rather than increasing it. Amir describes Sohrab as
looking like a sacrificial lamb during his confrontation with Assef, but it is actually
himself that Amir courageously sacrifices. In doing this, as Hassan once did for
him, Amir redeems himself, which is why he feels relief even as Assef beats him.
Amir also comes to see Sohrab as a substitute for the child he and Soraya cannot
have, and as a self-sacrificing father figure to Sohrab, Amir assumes the roles of
Baba and Hassan.
If Amirs character arc is about growth, Hassans arc is about not changing at all.
From the start and through his death, Hassan remains the same: loyal, forgiving,
and good-natured. As a servant to Baba and Amir, Hassan grows up with a very
particular role in life. While Amir prepares for school in the morning, Hassan
readies Amirs books and his breakfast. While Amir is at school getting an
education, Hassan helps Ali with the chores and grocery shopping. As a result,
Hassan learns that it is his duty to sacrifice himself for others. Furthermore, by
nature he is not prone to envy, and he even tells Amir he is happy with what he
has, though he sees all the time how much more Amir has. Hassan comes across
as the personification of innocence as a result, and this innocence is crucial in
creating the drama and symbolism of his rape by Assef. First, Hassans innocence
gives Amir no justifiable reason to betray Hassan. Amirs behavior cannot be
rationalized, making it consummately selfish and reprehensible. Second,
Hassans rape becomes the sacrifice of an innocent, a recurring motif in Islam,
Christianity, and Judaism that carries a great deal of symbolic meaning. LAMB
In his words and actions, Baba sets the moral bar in the novel. When Amir is a
boy, Babas major concern about him is that he doesnt have the courage to
stand up for himself, demonstrating that Baba places great value on doing what
is right. If Amir cannot take of himself as a boy, he worries, he will not have the
strength to behave morally as an adult. Baba follows through on these beliefs in

his own behavior. When he and Amir flee Kabul, he is willing to sacrifice his life to
keep the Russian guard from raping the woman with them, and in doing so he
sets the example that Amir will follow later when he must choose between
saving himself or doing what he knows to be right.
What the reader sees of Baba from Amirs narrative is not the full story, however.
As Amir describes him, he is proud, independent, determined, but sometimes
emotionally distant and impatient. We learn from a note Rahim Khan writes to
Amir toward the end of the book that Baba was a man torn between two halves,
specifically between Amir and Hassan. Amir never sees Babas inner conflict
because Baba has very much separated his outward appearance from his
internal emotions. For instance, Baba builds an orphanage, which appears to be
a simple act of charity. But as Rahim Khan explains, Baba built the orphanage to
make up for the guilt he felt for not being able to acknowledge Hassan as his
son. Babas hesitation to reveal his emotions causes Amir to feel that he never
knows Baba completely, alienating Amir from Baba while Amir is growing up.
The move to America is very difficult for Baba, who is used to being wealthy and
well-respected in his community. He goes from having wealth and a position of
power to working a low-paying job at a gas station and living modestly. Yet his
relationship with Amir improves. Baba, as Rahim Khan explains in his note, felt
guilty over his rich, privileged life because Hassan was not able to share in it.
When he no longer has his wealth, his guilt diminishes, and with Hassan not
around, he is not straining uncomfortably to act one way with Amir and another
with Hassan. As a result, he is able to open up more with Amir, and the two grow
much closer in Babas final years. Despite the fact that he lost everything he had
as a refugee, he dies genuinely happy, feeling proud of Amir and perhaps happy
that he was able to build the relationship he always wanted with at least one of
his sons.